November 29, 2010.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) last week had issued guidelines on the implementation of flexible work arrangement and on the exemption of women from the nightwork prohibition of the Labor Code, saying there is a need to assist and guide employers and employees in these matters owing to rapid technological innovations and to the continuing streamlining and transformation of work processes brought by globalization.
In issuing DOLE Advisory No. 4, series of 2010, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said the “adoption of flexible work arrangements is being considered to improve business competitiveness and productivity.”
“It is also aimed at giving employers and employees flexibility in fixing hours of work compatible with business requirements and the employee’ need for balanced work life,” she said.
On the exemption of women from nightwork prohibition, the labor and employment chief said:
“The exemption is recognized under Article 131 of the Labor Code under analogous cases, which also takes into account the Constitutional mandate for equal employment opportunities and the right against employment discrimination.”
Flexible work arrangements refer to alternative work modes or schedules other than the traditional workhours, workdays, and workweeks.
The advisory provides for three flexible work arrangements which employers and employees may consider, namely, compressed workweek, gliding on flexi-time schedule, and flexi-holidays schedule.
In a compressed workweek arrangement, the normal workweek is reduced to less than six days, but the normal workhours of 48 hours per week remain by increasing the number of workhours per day to more than eight hours but not to exceed 12 hours without overtime premium.
For a gliding or flexi-time schedule, employees are allowed to determine their work arrival and departure time but they are required to complete the core workhours.
On the other hand, in a flexi-holidays schedule, employees choose and agree to avail of holidays at some other days.
“Any or all of these flexible work arrangements shall be based on voluntary agreement between the employers and employees and the adoption of the arrangement shall be in no case result in the diminution of existing benefits,” Baldoz emphasized.
She added that the parties to the flexible work arrangement shall be primary responsible in administering it and that any differences that shall arise in its implementation shall be treated as grievance under the company’s grievance machinery.
“If there is no grievance machinery, the grievance shall be referred to the DOLE regional office for conciliation,” Baldoz said.
On the nightwork prohibition for women, Baldoz says that women employees may be allowed to work at night, provided that the worker is not below 18 years old.
Employers are also required to provide safe and healthful work conditions and adequate sleeping and resting facilities in the workplace.
“For pregnant women and nursing mothers, they may be allowed to work during nighttime, but a competent physician other that a company doctor shall certify to their fitness to render nightwork. In the case of pregnant workers, the physician shall also specify the period that they can safely work,” Baldoz explained.